It was yesterday at about 3.30pm when John Key was challenged to a game of beer pong.
Mel Ray had spotted him in a lemon polo shirt from across the park as he made his way through the crowd of about 15,000 people at New Zealand's largest gay pride event.
When she and fellow Grey Lynn resident Tash Vitali brought a table, filled it with cups of beer and proceeded to challenge each other to throwing a ping pong ball into those cups, they did not imagine such an auspicious challenger.
Key had been busy putting his arms around body painted fans, dogs with floral leis and gay men and women who apparently liked his style. They gave him high fives and shook his hand and took photos on camera phones.
It was Key's seventh time at the Big Gay Out and he had made the effort to keep the tradition alive after recently meeting with the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Queenstown. National MP Nikki Kaye also made an appearance after completing the Coast to Coast over the weekend.
"Hey bro," Mel Ray said to Key. "Come over here."
The Prime Minister was led through the crowd where Cam Thompson filled him in on the rules of the game. If his opponent Mikala Collins dropped a ball into his beer he had to skull it. It seemed Key already knew about beer pong.
On his second shot, Key slammed a ball into his opponent's cup. The cheers went up. Then two shots later Collins had her own back. Key picked up the cup put it to his lips and downed it.
"Major brownie points," Tash Vitali said. "That was awesome."
It may have been the sun brought from the "gay gods", as professional drag queen Miss Ribena asserted, or it may have been the one and a bit standard drinks the prime minister consumed in approximately six seconds, but for the rest of the day he had a slight glow.
"You look gorgeous," Miss Ribena told him.
"So do you," Key replied.
On stage, Key reaffirmed his support for the Marriage Equality Bill, that would give same sex couples the ability to marry, and announced that the rate of "AIDS" contraction in gay men had dropped by 30 per cent in the past three years.
"He obviously meant HIV," said a woman after Key's speech. "He doesn't know what he is talking about."
AIDS develops out of contracted HIV.
And then, as if to reinforce the point that Key might not be as progressive as he purported, Andy Lawrie was seen lowering a coat hanger affixed to a bamboo pole over the head of the Prime Minister.
"It's just a little reminder," he said.
On the coat hanger was a gay red shirt.
Last year Key was lambasted for announcing on radio that the shirt his fellow radio announcer was wearing was a "gay red shirt". He later admitted he had picked up the usage from his children. He used it as a synonym for "weird".
"It's just to make people remember," Lawrie said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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